An open letter to the parents in the Car Line

I understand you never liked riding the bus as a child. Buses are hot, smelly, loud and bouncing things. Kids pack onto them and sometimes fight with each other, and the route is often long and arduous, similar to Frodo’s journey through Mordor, up until he got to the volcano. Maybe you live too far from the school for the child to walk. I understand that too. Most people prefer living outside major cities and towns, usually in some artificial development where they cut down all the trees and then name the place “Whispering Pines” or some such nonsense. And of course, carpooling is right out. Carpooling was probably killed by lawyers. It’s all well and good to pick up the neighbor’s kids one week, and then let them pick up your kids the next, as long as the drive goes well. The moment someone gets in an accident, you might lose your house. So Carpooling is out.

But all of the above doesn’t mean you get to leave your common sense at the door. Road Rage is bad enough, but just try sorting out “Car Line Rage”. It’s no day at the beach either. It’s amazing how a grown person driving a $50,000 car can act like a ‘tween’ in the lunch line. And it’s amazingly funny to watch.

First of all, being in the car line does not make you exempt from all other vehicle codes. Most parents tend to think that normal rules and regulations for operating a motor vehicle cease the moment they enter the car line. I’m sorry, “Mom’s Taxi”, but It really doesn’t matter if you have been waiting in line to turn left with fifty other cars for thirty minutes. If someone comes along and wants to turn right, they get in front of you. End of story. Left turns yield to right turns. That’s the way it works. Go down the road, hang a U-Turn, and turn right in front of all the people you left behind. See? It works better, doesn’t it?

The car line is also not MORE important than regular traffic. Imagine thirty-seven people moving slowly into the school parking lot, as only parents can do. One person is waiting to turn left, and decides to hold up the entire world behind him, until all thirty-seven people turn into the school, and then he can go. If it were me, I might get out and flatten your tires. At least then you have a REASON to be stuck in the middle of the road holding up traffic into the next state. Like my last example, go down the street, turn around, and join the zombies in line.

Just because you are in the car line, doesn’t mean you get to turn the highway into a parking lot. That’s not what highways are for. Since everyone wants to be first-in, first-out, people sometimes get to the school while the kids are still at lunch. If you pull up to the school two hours before your kid gets out, just to sit in the heat and read, something is wrong with you. But because this is done, a line starts to build, and eventually reaches the highway. Most sane people would say, “Oh crap! The line is out to the road, I better come back at 3 when everyone else is gone, and I can drive right up and pick up my child.” As I said, most SANE people would do this, but we are talking about car line parents. They will just pull right up to the last car in line, throw it into park, and pick up where they left off yesterday in “Fifty Shades of Grey”, or check in on Facebook once again, “In the car line, yay! Time to pick up snooky-wookums.”

Next time can you check in: “I’m parked in the middle of the road like a dumbass, come see me get rear-ended!” because eventually that’s what is going to happen.

If it was ME working the wreck, I would say, “Well, car line parent, I gave the other guy a ticket for running into you. Here’s your ticket for parking in the road. Now, neither one of you gets to sue the other one, so have a nice day.”

“But, the road is four lanes, they can just go around me!”

The road is four lanes for a reason. There’s a lot of traffic, and they NEED four lanes.

Put your child on the bus. Please, for the love of (insert invisible cosmic sky being here), use the damn bus. When there are six hundred students at a school, and three are on the bus, there is something wrong there. I know everyone has to coddle their child to death and give “participation trophies” and wear full helmets, knee pads, and body armor just to go to the playground, but honestly, the bus is fine. You pay the taxes to fund the bus, use it. Don’t whine to me about how much gas costs when are sitting there burning two gallons an afternoon trying to keep cool for two hours in the August heat in Mordor.  Either that or start carpooling again. If all the parents have each other sign waivers so no one can sue each other, it will all work out in the end, sort of like a car-rider prenup.

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Jailbroken – Again!

So, I finally bit the bullet and upgraded my iPhone software again. I was stuck on 4.2, and couldn’t play some games and such because I was too far behind the curve. So Tuesday when I checked the web for a new version, I found the stars had aligned once again, and not only was a decent iPhone software out, but it had been out for a while and was easily jailbroken by a one-click program from greenp0ison.

If you don’t know what jailbreaking is, it’s a simply “unlocking” the restrictions on your phone so you can do stuff with it. Apple, for one, likes to maintain control over their products, so as to increase reliability. IF everyone can screw around with their operating system, it’s more likely that people will cause problems and go running to the Apple stores with their screwed-up stuff.

Jail breaking for me has always simply been about customization. I like to change the icons, sounds, fonts, and look of my phone, much like windows used to let you do back around Windows 95 or 98. I think the whole “theming” for windows is gone, but there used to be a lot of cool stuff you could do.

I tried tethering once – that’s where you use your phone as a wi-fi spot. It’s always been sort of “built in” to the phone, but AT&T wouldn’t let you do it. Back when I tried it, it wasn’t allowed at all, and because our area was stuck in the “E” dark ages, it never really worked well. Now AT&T WILL let you tether your phone, but they charge you extra for something you can already do. If they catch you tethering for free, they’ll charge you for it, so I don’t do it.

At one time I had a little Bluetooth folding keyboard. It wasn’t any bigger than an android phone, and pretty light, but it needed a driver to run, and jailbreaking allowed it to work. It has since broken, and since the company no longer exists, I couldn’t replace it. It was always a little finicky anyway. Apple’s non-folding Bluetooth keyboard works a lot better, but it won’t fit in your pocket.

But yesterday I was looking around and found one of the best reasons EVER to jailbreak. It’s an app available through Cydia called “User Agent” and totally kicks ass.

If you’ve used a cell phone browser at all, you’ve run into the “mobile” versions of web sites. Often butchered, not well thought out, and with severely limited functions. Some sites have a “desktop version” button hidden somewhere, or a “full site” link to click. But some do not, and you are forced into the mobile version with all of its idiosyncrasies and non-functionality.

User Agent fools the web sites. You tell the phone to pretend it’s a desktop computer in settings, and even pick which browser you want to pretend to be using. BAM, no more “mobile versions” ever, well, unless you go into settings and turn off User Agent. No more nag screens from “tapatalk” when using internet forums, no more looking for the ‘full version’ link.

I just hope iPhone 5 is a little bigger… because browsing on that little screen gets painful on the eyes.

Table Rock State Park – or – why I’m walking funny today.

Table Rock is one of South Carolina’s most iconic images. Most anywhere you see a billboard about SC State Parks, they show you a view of Table Rock.

Borrowed this from Google….

Table Rock State Park also includes Pinnacle Mountain, which is the tallest mountain entirely in South Carolina. Sassafrass Mountain is a couple of hundred feet taller, but it is mostly in North Carolina. But still, coming from an area that is 250 feet above sea level, 3200 feet is nothing to sneeze at.

I met with our Meetup.Com group at 7a.m., which meant I got up at 5…But I’m glad we got an early start. Despite cleaning and vacuuming the car by flashlight the night before, I didn’t need it. The group was much smaller than anticipated, and four of us rode up in Mark’s car. Since this was only a day hike, I left the Blue Beast backpack at home, and took my DSLR pack, replacing the camera with hiking goodies. I don’t think I could have made it with the big pack on.

Our group – from left David, Mark, Shawnee, Mike and Ben

Unfortunately some of the group did not show, so we were left with the six of us. It turned out fine, however. The smaller group worked out great with the strenuous hike, and the bees. Plus, I knew Mike and David from the Panthertown trip, so it was fun to see some familiar faces.

The first mile or two out of the nature center followed a cascading watercourse, one long continuous falls down from the mountains. It was noisy and pretty a cool, but not very photogenic from the trail. Then we spun off from there, and headed up towards Pinnacle Mountain.

Waterfall along the trail
Nice overhanging rock… blurry because my heart was pounding here.

We Stopped to admire the overhang and little waterfall
Water dripping over the top of us
A look down at Ben, David, Mike, Me and Shawnee: photo by Mark.

Before reaching the top of Pinnacle Mountain, we took a spur trail to Mills Creek Falls. Without warning, suddenly we were getting stung by bees. The stories vary at this point. I was behind Shawnee, at the rear of the line. According to Shawnee, when the bees started after us, I started pushing her out of the way to get past her. In my defense, I was only attempting to spur her on faster, as yellow jackets can have quite a range when they get pissed off. Several of us got stung, with no major ill effects. Mark provided benadryl to all. I have some in my pack, somewhere, but since he was offering and I didn’t want to dig around, it was nice to get. What I didn’t know, was this was a spur trail, which meant one way in, one way out. We got to the waterfall at the end, and hung out for a while, hoping the bees would calm down.

Mike on the waterfall observation bridge.
Waiting on the bees to calm down, we explore the little waterfall area.
Mills creek falls

After waiting a few minutes, we hoped the bees were gone, and some of the group started off, leaving Mark and I in the back. I put my jacket on, just in case, and we hoofed it back to the group. When we passed the bee area, Mark was in front of me, and I saw some bees chase after him. We ran as fast as we could that time, and escaped injury.

I got some spare water on the way up, and put it in my pack in a sprite bottle. I didn’t think I would need it, but I was glad I got it later.

The push up to Pinnacle was harder than I thought. It kept getting steeper and steeper. Finally we came out to an overlook and sat down for lunch. I put the water purifying drops in my spare water, and pulled out my pepperoni, bagel and apple.

Pinnacle Overlook
Wider view
Shawnee scared Mark while eating lunch, sitting on the edge.

Our group eating lunch

Some raptor kept circling just off the cliff. He wouldn’t hold still though, he’s the black spot…I promise.

After lunch we had the long steep push to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, which I never thought I would complete. We saw a few more bees on the way up, but they didn’t bother us like the first ones. The top of Pinnacle is a little anti-climactic. Its a little hump at the top, surrounded by trees and bushes. There’s no view, not even a sign, but the overlook below made up for the lack of stuff at the top. After that, it was a long descent down the ridge trail towards table rock. The downhill was nice and invigorating, after the hard push uphill.